The government is looking at ways to make it easier for consumers to get their appliances fixed. If put in place, these new rules would require any appliance boasting an Energy Star label to provide consumers and repair technicians with the necessary information to repair the product.
Additionally, proposed new rules would require companies to make crucial software and firmware updates available to consumers and repair techs. Many of today’s high-tech appliances are operated by computers. If you don’t have the right software version in place, it’s impossible to get the controls to work properly.
According to the FTC, “Access to this information will strengthen consumers’ right to repair damaged products, without the need to go back to the manufacturer, providing them with potentially lower-cost repair options.”
Manufacturers have argued that these types of rules would force them to make their intellectual property public knowledge and give competitors insight into their products.
Right now, the FTC is seeking public comment on the matter. “We look forward to hearing from the public on our initiative to reduce energy costs, promote competition, and strengthen repairability,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “As prices rise, the Commission will continue to take aggressive action to protect consumers’ pocketbooks and strengthen their right to repair their own products.”
In addition to requiring repair instructions, the new rules would revise the energy labels for several types of products, including:
- clothes dryers
- air cleaners
- miscellaneous refrigerator products, including coolers
- additional light bulbs, including low-brightness bulbs
- residential ice makers
- miscellaneous gas products (also known as hearth products)
- cooking tops
- electric spas